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Uprooting the Dirty Dozen

Yes, unfortunately it’s (still) true. Organic fruits and vegetables are usually more costly than their conventional counterparts preventing many consumers from going organic, especially in these budget-conscious times. However, we need to add the long-term expense of non-organic farming and consumption to the conversation.

Ingesting synthetic pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers is proven to cause a wide range of health problems, costing millions of consumers more in the long run for healthcare.

The other expense to consider is the poisoning of producers, field workers, land, air and beneficial bugs before, during and after application. The cost to repair all the damage (some of it irreparable) far surpasses the extra money spent on the front end.

For the sake of our planet’s health and our own, it’s time to tip the supply and demand scale on produce purchases.

Rock the Green is teaming up with local restaurants and producers to provide organic festival fare at affordable prices. Hopefully a model that more concert events will follow.

Individually, one solution is to choose organic produce at the grocery store whenever possible – which takes us back to that affordability issue.

If you are one of the many who want to support organic agriculture but find yourself conflicted by the expense, the following lists from the Environmental Working Group will help you make informed choices.

Consider purchasing conventional produce from the “Clean 15″ list, which identifies foods that have less pesticide use or residue. Try to avoid the “Dirty Dozen,” foods known to have higher chemical residues because the crop is especially susceptible to pests or weeds and requires heavier spraying; the fruit or vegetable is thin-skinned, which allows more absorption of the chemicals; or the product is imported from a country with less stringent standards, regulations and inspections than the U.S. (If you do consume non-organic, be sure to wash the items thoroughly. Rebel Green’s “Fruit & Veggie Clean” works well, and it’s local!)

The Dirty Dozen (Buy Organic):
1. Apples 2. Celery 3. Sweet bell peppers 4. Peaches 5. Strawberries 6. Nectarines – imported 7. Grapes 8. Spinach 9. Lettuce 10. Cucumbers 11. Blueberries – domestic 12. Potatoes
The Clean 15 (Buy Conventional – Lowest in Pesticide Use and/or Absorption):
1. Onions 2. Sweet Corn 3. Pineapples 4. Avocado 5. Cabbage 6. Sweet peas 7. Asparagus 8. Mangoes 9. Eggplant 10. Kiwi 11. Cantaloupe – domestic 12. Sweet potatoes 13. Grapefruit 14. Watermelon 15. Mushrooms

Although the “Clean 15” may have less chemical residue upon consumption, keep the bigger picture in mind. If you have the funds and access, keep yourself, your family and Mother Earth healthy by going organic all the way!

Click here for a residue ranking of the 53 most common fruits and vegetables.

Click here for a printable guide of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.

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